*Kat & Mouse — Recommended Series

Kat has just moved from the Midwest to New England, where her dad is the new science teacher at a private school. When a break-in at the science lab puts his job in jeopardy, Kat and new friend Mouse are determined to find out who’s responsible.

Kat & Mouse cover
Kat & Mouse Book 1
Teacher Torture
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It’s a familiar setting, with plenty of welcoming hooks for the reader. As a high concept, it’s Nancy Drew meets Mean Girls, but what it reminds me of most is the early days of Gilmore Girls. The writing’s got the same strength and truth of character, with young women I’d either love to hang out with or find highly entertaining to watch, as a brainy girl navigates a posh world because of her family.

It’s terrific to see smart girls portrayed as cool and competent, but the mystery is only a framework for the character insight and humor. Mouse is smart and observant, and she’s not shy about showing it. Kat is understandably insecure, due to the many changes in her life and the adaptations she’s asked to make as a result. The setting is backgrounded by class distinctions based, in the American way, on money and the self-centeredness that comes with privilege.

Kat & Mouse Book 2 cover
Kat & Mouse Book 2
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Federica Manfredi’s art is simply astounding; it’s clean and confident, with plenty of expression. She’s able to handle everything well — head shots, setting-establishing spreads, conversation, and action. I also liked the way the girls are proactive and unafraid of technology. They plot over IM and use science to solve the mystery.

Book two opens with the introduction of a new art teacher. Mr. Templar proposes taking the kids on a field trip to the Boston museum, and Mouse is crushing on him big-time. Kat’s unsure about attending, because her family is on a tight budget as they adjust to the ritzy new area. Her lack of enthusiasm winds up driving a temporary wedge between the girls, although they work it out in time to solve an art mystery.

Kat & Mouse Book 3 cover
Kat & Mouse Book 3
The Ice Storm
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In book three, everyone’s preparing for the winter dance, while Mouse sums up her feelings: “This is what I hate about school dances. If we go, we’ll feel like losers. And if we don’t go, we’ll feel like losers.” Such is the life of the unpopular girl, although at least they have each other.

And popular girl Chloe doesn’t have it easy, either. She’s got to pass science or her parents will ground her. Kat needs money for a dress for the dance, so she winds up tutoring Chloe. This foregrounds the difference between dealing with someone individually as a person and dealing with someone as part of a group: even supposedly strong personalities have trouble contradicting others’ expectations of them in public.

Plus, there’s the issue of not wanting to be a slave to stupid teen mag fashion but still wanting to look attractive: it’s a problem every high school girl faces at times like these. Everything comes to a head with a stolen jewelry cliffhanger, setting the reader up for next year’s book four.

(That volume was canceled — read more about Alex de Campi’s experience in this interview — but finally appeared in September 2009.)

All the books include additional science information — in book one, how to take fingerprints; book two shows how to make an electromagnet; book three, prism rainbows — and profiles of accomplished women. This series is a definite keeper. It’s a shame that the non-standard format experiment has kept it from being as well-known as it should be. I really hope, since book four is reportedly the final, that Tokyopop collects all of them into one big volume, which would be easier to sell and stock.

16 Responses to “*Kat & Mouse — Recommended Series”

  1. megs Says:

    Having read the first chapter in a free comic book day giveraway, I really want to read the rest and based on just that I’d have to reccommend this book. I read dozens of books like this as a kid where a girl moves to another town and has to make new friends and usually solve some other mystery at the same time and this is one of the best I’ve read. I’ve always chapioned reading to young girls as a way of learning understanding and how other people think and behave differently and this book, with its insight and many different characters that are all different people, does such a good job of showing that.

  2. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] In preparation for the upcoming release of the second Kat & Mouse book, Tokyopop editor Tim Beedle has begun posting behind-the-scenes art from the series. I really enjoyed this charming tale of two schoolgirls solving mysteries, because the characters are modern, interesting, and snappy. It’s a pleasure to get to see what went into making them who they are. […]

  3. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] I’ve updated my Kat & Mouse recommendation page to cover book two. Like book one, it’s a great read, especially for girls, with terrific art and characterization. […]

  4. Manga Page Updates » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Kat & Mouse Book 3 sends the kids to the school’s winter dance, where jewelry is stolen and grudges are demonstrated. […]

  5. MangaBlog » Blog Archive » Post-election day links Says:

    […] her review pages with comments on recent volumes of Nana, Emma, ES: Eternal Sabbath, Fruits Basket, Kat and Mouse, and Tramps Like Us. Dan Polley checks out vol. 11 of Black Cat and vol. 1 of Vampire Kisses: Blood […]

  6. latoya Says:

    your book is like so cool!!
    lolol i’m a fan

  7. kim Says:

    this book , is awsom , i just got in 2 them and ahve already read all of them i cant wait for the fourth 2 come out , please let it be sooon , thanks

    lol , i am a big fan!

  8. rebecca Says:

    i love kat and mouse books i can’t wait for #4!

  9. Tokyopop Titles Cancelled » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] has a list of announced Tokyopop cancellations. The two I’m most concerned with are Kat & Mouse 4 and the next Kindaichi Case Files: The Burial […]

  10. Interview with Alex de Campi: Kat & Mouse » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] recently reread the three volumes of Kat & Mouse, the Tokyopop series about two girls solving mysteries at a snooty New England private school. […]

  11. *The War at Ellsmere — Recommended » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] you’d like to read other girls-in-private-school comics, try The Dreaming or Kat & Mouse. […]

  12. anya Says:

    I go to a private middle school in a slightly posh neighborhood and can relate to Kat (I’m not a prep, my dad is a science professor and I love IMing).

  13. Kat & Mouse: The Knave of Diamonds » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] here! It’s here! The conclusion to the Kat & Mouse mystery started two years ago! Kat & Mouse: The Knave of Diamonds […]

  14. There Are Too Plenty of Comics for Kids! » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Kat & Mouse […]

  15. Tokyopop Sells Print on Demand Books » Manga Worth Reading Says:

    […] also noted that they’re using the process to fill gaps. Kat and Mouse, for example, a short-volume series published at $5.99, is still available conventionally — […]

  16. Tokyopop’s Demise Spurs Deep Thinking, Memories of Favorite Series I’ll Miss » Manga Worth Reading Says:

    […] That count does include their OEL titles, of which my favorites were Dramacon, Steady Beat, and Kat & Mouse. All created by women, which perhaps isn’t surprising, but I didn’t realize until now […]




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